IJERPH, Vol. 15, Pages 2543: Evaluation and Prediction of the Ecological Footprint and Ecological Carrying Capacity for Yangtze River Urban Agglomeration Based on the Grey Model (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health)
The conflict between economic development and environmental protection has become increasingly prominent in the urbanization process of the Yangtze River urban agglomeration, the most economically developed region in Jiangsu Province in China. In order to investigate the sustainable development status, and thus provide decision support for the sustainable development of this region, the ecological footprint model was utilized to evaluate and analyze the ecological footprint per capita, the ecological carrying capacity per capita, and the ecological deficit per capita for the period from 2013 to 2017. Furthermore, the Grey model is employed to predict the development trend of the ecological footprint for 2018 to 2022. The evaluation results show that the ecological footprint per capita has been increasing year by year since 2013, reaching a peak of 2.3897 hm2 in 2015 before declining again. In the same period, the available ecological carrying capacity per capita and the ecological footprint per capita basically developed in the same direction, resulting in an ecological deficit per capita and gradually increasing from 2013 to a peak of 2.0303 hm2 in 2015 before declining. It is also found that the change of ecological carrying capacity is not substantial, and the change of the ecological deficit is mainly caused by a huge change of the ecological footprint. The forecast results show that the ecological deficit per capita will reach 1.1713 hm2 in 2018, which will be another deficit peak after 2015. However, in the later period until 2022, the ecological deficit per capita will begin to decline year by year. These results can provide effective inspirations for reducing the ecological deficit of the Yangtze River urban agglomeration, thus promoting the coordinated development of the economy and environment in this area.